How Many Hours a Week Is a Part-Time Job?

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If you’re looking for a change of pace, you might have considered switching to part-time work. Competing personal and work obligations sometimes require schedule adjustments. How many hours a week is considered a part-time job?

The quest for answers can be quite bewildering, given the diversity of interpretations and the lack of a universal definition. Here’s what you should know about part-time work and what that often means.

What Is Considered Part-Time Work?

Broadly speaking, a part-time job is one that demands fewer work hours per week compared to a full-time job. However, the actual threshold differentiating part-time from full-time varies significantly across industries, organizations, and even legal bodies. In the absence of a standard definition, understanding the nuances of part-time employment becomes crucial for both employers and employees.

Legal and Company Perspectives on Part-Time Employment

The legal interpretation of a part-time job isn’t uniform. For instance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies those working less than 35 hours a week as part-time employees. The IRS views anyone working more than 30 hours per week or more than 130 hours a month as a full-time employee.

The lack of a universal legal definition has led many organizations to establish their own policies around part-time employment. One example is Amazon, which uses specific categories to determine employee eligibility for benefits. Their categories include part-time (20 to 29 hours per week), reduced time (30 to 39 hours per week), and full-time employees (40 or more hours per week).       

Comparing Full-Time and Part-Time Jobs

The distinction between part-time and full-time jobs often gets blurred due to variable working hours across industries and organizations. The definition of a traditional full-time work week has changed over the years. Some employers expect employees to work more than 40 hours while others are OK with fewer hours.

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The gig economy further complicates things, with independent contractors or self-employed individuals fitting neither the part-time nor the full-time mold. These workers can set their own schedules, working as little or as much as they prefer.

The Benefits of a Part-Time Job Schedule

Part-time schedules allow plenty of freedom. If you’re a student or have family obligations, these jobs offer flexibility. However, depending on the employer, your work hours could change. Often, the expected work hours and days are outlined in the job description, but they can also be adjusted on a weekly or monthly basis. Therefore, it’s important to understand the job requirements and schedule before accepting a position.

Perks and Benefits for Part-Time Employees

Accepting a part-time job doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t enjoy the same perks as full-timers. Part-time employees may be eligible for certain company benefits, depending on the organization’s policies. Some benefits are mandated by law, while others are offered at the employer’s discretion.

Pros and Cons of Part-Time Work

While part-time jobs may result in lower earnings and fewer benefits compared to full-time employment, they offer certain advantages. For instance, you have more time for personal pursuits, less work-related stress, and the potential to learn new skills. Also, if you’re flexible enough to juggle multiple part-time jobs, your earnings could be quite substantial.

On the other hand, part-time work often means less access to employer-provided health insurance. In such cases, you’d either need to forego insurance, get covered through a spouse, or purchase insurance through the federal health insurance marketplace.

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The Bottom Line

Generally, part-time hours depend on the company. The lack of a universal definition, the divergence in legal interpretations, and the diversity in company policies make this a complex question. However, understanding these nuances can help you navigate the part-time employment landscape and empower you to create a schedule that works best for you.

Editor's note: This article was produced via automated technology and then fine-tuned and verified for accuracy by a member of GOBankingRates' editorial team.

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